THE DISH: A special Ramadhan treat at Artcaffe

Friday May 24 2019

The iftar meal at Artcaffe. PHOTO| ABIGAIL ARUNGA


The iftar meal at Artcaffe is the bomb diggity.

Ideally, this post can end here, but I might as well turn it into an entire ode.

If you are Kenyan, then you know that it is Ramadhan, the month of fasting and prayer for all Muslims around the world, - and if you are friends with any Muslims, it also means a lot of great food for you, particularly if you're neighbours.

The idea of Ramadhan is to get closer to Allah, through prayer and fasting, and has similar tangents associated with the Christian parable of Jesus fasting and praying in the desert.

The thing is, fasting makes you hungry, at the end of the day. Not that you aren't eating at all during the day, but you have your first meal in the wee hours of the morning – known as suhur - , then break the fast at around 6 pm every day.

Restaurants often take advantage of this time period by offering a special meal for iftar – breaking the fast – at the end of the day, and Artcaffe is not playing.


I was at the Lavington Mall branch last week, having a meeting with 20 or so friends.

First of all, I always forget to call ahead and book a space for multiple people, but in situations where there are that many people involved, it's a good thing I called ahead, because you know how Artcaffe is during Happy Hour – it is full.

And so the only space they had was the inside seating area, which I was trying to avoid because I didn't want to make noise for the other diners, but I suppose if you go to a public place to eat, what you are going to get it – well, the public.


Our lovely waitress – I can't remember her name, but she had a slayage mohawk with the tips dyed red – did well in not being overwhelmed with our loudness, and our orders.

And, she very quickly informed us of the iftar special, which we didn't know was the iftar special. We were just hungry.

She also told us that obviously, we could only order the special from 6 pm. The special consists of, a water or a juice, a coffee, a fruit salad, and a sweet and sour chicken dish served with rice.

It doesn't sound like a lot, but it really is a lot, especially after you haven't eaten the whole day.

That sweet and spicy chicken is a yummy, well-flavoured dish that I actually haven't had in quite a while at Artcaffe, so I was happy for the reminder.

Usually I am too busy pigging out on their lasagne – not many people do a good lasagne the way they do.

Outside of Caffe Concerto, I haven't found a lot of Italian I actually appreciate. Here's looking at you, Mediterraneo, and rolling my eyes.

You can have the chicken with rice or mashed potatoes (a special shout out to Artcaffe mashed potatoes.

If we're being honest, there is way too much butter and cream in them, but all the best things in life have way too much butter and cream until you get on the weighing scale. And hey, at least they serve it with steamed vegetables on the side, am I right?).

It's funny how everyone who is around Muslims benefits so much from the Islam faith. We get specials at Artcaffe which we can eat whether we're Muslim or not.

We get a holiday at the end of Ramadhan, whether we're Muslim or not. We get tasty food when homes are breaking fasts – whether we're Muslim or not. And still Kenyans have the audacity to act scared or act like some Muslims, particularly Kenyan Somalis, the majority of whom are Muslim, are not Kenyan? It makes no sense to be ok with benefiting from something in private that in public you will denounce.

I think that part of my takeaway, from Ramadhan, is to remember the point of tolerance, and peaceful coexistence, which really, is the message for all of humanity. And of course, food – which is the point of this column. Ramadhan Kareem, folks.


Wondering where to get the 411 on what's happening in and around Nairobi's foodie scene? There's a lot of places you could go, but here's where we want you to be – getting the dish on the dish. Get it? We knew you would.